Government Seeks Public Guidance on Video Game Loot Boxes
The Government is seeking help from the general public to decide if video games with loot boxes should be classified as gambling products. The move has been made in response to a call for evidence originally announced by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
As part of an eight-week consultation, people will be able to submit their views on the controversial feature, with the Government seeking information about “the experiences of players and their parents or guardians as well as…high quality data…from video games companies, academia, civil society (and) other organisations with an interest in this issue.”
What are Loot Boxes?
Loot boxes allow players to purchase in-game items such as modifications, customisations and enhancements for real money. However, participants only discover what the loot box contains once they’ve made a purchase. It is this element of chance that has been the cause of most concern among governmental officials as well as NHS figures.
The issues surrounding loot boxes first came to the fore in 2017 following the beta release of Star Wars Battlefront II. Although the game’s aggressive use of loot boxes was watered down for the official release, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee decided to launch an investigation into the potential effects of ‘immersive and addictive technologies’.
Gaming the System
After a detailed study, which saw the committee conduct numerous interviews with representatives from the video game industry, the DCMS released a series of recommendations in September 2019 – among them the proposals that loot box games be regulated under current gambling law and that a ban should be placed on their sale to children.
These recommendations were supported by the UK Children’s Commissioner which published its own investigation into loot boxes, entitled ‘Gaming the System’.
In June, the DCMS requested a call for evidence in order to gain a better understanding of the loot box market in the UK, as well as the impact on players and their guardians.
You can submit your thoughts about loot boxes through an online form or via email – visit this page for more information – the deadline for submissions is November 22.